Posts Tagged ‘ ADOPTION ’
An adoptive dad (who wishes to remain anonymous) reveals how telling his son the truth about his adoption has changed their family dynamics for the better…
I have two adopted children: my daughter, now 18, was adopted at the age of ten, and I adopted my son, now 11, when he was just three years old.
My daughter knew her biological father and had some contact with him before I adopted her, but they never really enjoyed a close relationship. After I adopted my daughter, she decided to break contact with her biological father altogether, even though I never discouraged their relationship. I wanted to make sure that she knew she could have contact with him if she wanted to.
My son did not know he was adopted until recently, when we decided he was old enough to know the truth. I was extremely reluctant to tell him about his adoption at first because he and I had a very difficult relationship, and I had also heard about so many adoptees who found out late in life about their adoption and the pain this caused.
I guess one will never know for sure when it’s the perfect time to tell someone that he/she is adopted; my wife and I made our decision based on our son’s emotional maturity level and readiness to hear this sensitive information. We asked a close friend, who is a preacher and counselor, to facilitate the process for us, as we knew our son would need access to someone he could trust when this life-changing information was revealed to him.
We approached the process as a family, and included my adopted daughter to support our son and be there for him should he have any questions or concerns. Although it was difficult at first, we believe that we can build a better family structure without having to pretend that we are something we are not.
My wife and I both suspected that Nathan (name changed) knew I was not his biological father, but I don’t think he understood his adoption and the complexity of the situation. When the facilitator revealed the information to him, he was not surprised, but became very emotional. That he was not surprised confirmed that he suspected the truth, but the complexity of the situation made him emotional.
As we spoke, the facilitator continually checked that Nathan understood what we were trying to tell him by asking him for feedback and examples. One comment Nathan made was that he knew I loved him, because of what we do and share together and that if I didn’t love him as my child, I would not have to do what I was doing for him then.
As a psychologist, I appreciated the facilitator’s effort to continually “check-in” with Nathan during the session to ensure he was okay and reassure him of the love our family’s and my, as his adoptive father, love for him. Nathan cried a lot while we talked, not because of his adoption, but because his mother was very emotional and he was the focus of attention in a serious matter.
This session firstly made me feel that I can be a father without having to pretend that I’m someone I’m not: I could be Nathan’s adoptive father and no longer pretend to be his biological father. Some may wonder why this is so important, and it’s difficult to explain, but it was important for me as I don’t have any biological children. Although I wanted to, I have come to accept that I will never have any. Pretending that Nathan was my biological child constantly reminded me of the fact that I do not have biological children and that I was living a lie.
Also, pretending to be someone I wasn’t caused me to push the children away, as indirectly and subconsciously I blamed them for my not having biological children. However, by telling and living the truth of being their adoptive father, I can make peace with not having biological children and be the real father to my children that God intended me to be.
For Nathan, not much has changed; he does not blame anyone or feel unloved. His standing in our family remains the same and he still regards me as his only father. He has not asked about his biological father and we don’t think he will for a while yet, but we believe that when he does, he will be ready to understand more about this complex situation. For now, he knows that he is adopted, and that this doesn’t change our love for him – he is our son, regardless of who his biological father is.
Should he want more clarity and information on his biological father later in life, we will support his decision, as we did with our daughter. We will never prevent our children from contacting with their biological fathers if they choose to do so.
Unexpectedly, telling Nathan about his adoption has positively changed my relationship with my daughter. We communicate better, trust each other more and talk about things we never could before. I believe that although my daughter knew about her adoption, she also never realised how much she gained by having a “real” father who cares for and loves her, and how much having a father and mother who love each other has changed her life for the better.
What was discussed with Nathan was not a surprise to her, as she already knew about it, but I believe that what her and her brother’s adoption has meant to them has helped to change her previously negative and antagonistic attitude and behaviour.
For my wife, the biological mother of our children, this session has helped her to realise what I was going through as a “secret” adoptive father. Her relationship with Nathan has also changed for the better – previously she always tried to protect him from the truth, to the extent of becoming over-protective, which hampered Nathan’s emotional growth as he was overly dependent on his mother.
I firmly believe that the truth has set us all free from pretending and living a lie. Now we are free to be who we really are and to build on a family unit regardless of the past. Finally, we can start building a family based on truth and trust. Because it’s not the blood in your veins, but the love in your heart that makes you a family.
Every once in a while I stumble across something from a fellow adoptee that sums up exactly how I feel about my adoption, but conveys these emotions so well that I would rather “copy and paste” their thoughts (with permission, of course) than try to echo them with my own sentiments.
Like the following blog by Rebecca Hawkes, adopted daughter and adoptive and biological mother – I think what she says is simply brilliant…
I sometimes wish I knew what it would be like to not be adopted. If you are not adopted, please think about that for a moment. Think about the things that you take for granted. Think about the simple, natural connection between you and the people to whom you are related. Even if your relationship with your family is not 100 per cent positive, there is a quality of your connection to them that you have probably never questioned; they simply ARE your family. They didn’t choose you; you didn’t choose them. You are connected to them by the interwoven threads of shared experience and biology.
For me, as an adopted person, things are not so simple. It occurred to me recently that being adopted is a bit like having Strabismus, or “Wandering Eye,” a condition in which the two eyes don’t quite work together as they should to create a single, unified picture. As a metaphor for the adoption experience, this translates to two separate visions of family. One eye sees the world through the lens of experience and upbringing. This is the “nurture” lens, connected to a definition of family as those people with whom I grew up, who cared for me, and shared the experiences of family life with me. The other eye is the lens of “nature,” or biology. It sees family as those people who share my genetics and genealogy, who are related to me in spite of our lack of shared history.
Some people with Strabismus compensate by favoring one eye over the other, and some adopted people do so as well, metaphorically. There are adoptees who will tell you that their real family is the one that they grew up in. Period. There are even those who express distance from, and disdain for, their biological mothers by referring to the them as “incubators.” On the other end of the spectrum are those who refer to their adoptive parents as “adopters,” rather than parents, rejecting the adoptive definition of family in favor of a strictly biological one. But many of us find ourselves in the middle, struggling to hold two (at times contradictory) definitions of family simultaneously, striving to create a single, unified vision from these two divergent points of reference.
Can I say that my life would have been better if I hadn’t been adopted? Would I be happier or psychologically healthier today? I can’t say that with any certainty at all; who knows where that unknown path would have led. Most of the time I am able to accept, and even celebrate, my life for what it is and to see the duality of adoption as an enrichment rather than a detraction. Usually, I am thankful that I have the love of not just one but two families. But to be honest, I’m not always in that place of acceptance and gratitude. Sometimes I wish that instead of families, I simply had “a family”.
Follow Rebecca’s blog at http://rebecca-hawkes.blogspot.com/
Kirsty Simmonds writes: “I absolutely loved your book; I could not put it down. It is an amazing and courageous walk you have lead, Aurette. You dealt with it so frankly and honestly and have faced your absolute worst fears! You have come through victorious – I was inspired, moved to tears and in joy for you – so proud of how you pushed through and refused to accept nothing less than the absolute truth, even if it meant shattering any “feel-good illusions”.
I was truly affected, moved and impressed. You truly are an inspiration – you have lived as you speak and abide in the Word. Your life bears such great testimony to how necessary and how wonderful faith in God is an can keep us through our darkest trials. Without Him we will be truly lost to the darkness and despair. Thank you for being so brave to write this all down and share your unique life story. So many will be saved beacuse of your faith and ability to put into words what so few would have been able to.
In celebration of my birth-mother’s birthday this month, I am publishing this letter (with permission) from adoptee Shefalie Chandra, who wrote to her birth-mother this last Mother’s Day. Her words really moved me and echo so many of my emotions, which is why I wanted to share it…
I am really sorry that I never got to reach the stage in my life and yours where I could have emotionally adult responses and choices in a relationship with you. I am sorry that I never actually got the chance to have a relationship with you, except mostly in my head where I am writing all the scripts and narratives.
I wish I could have got to the place where I could have shown more respect and care for you, without having to change you into who I thought I needed or wanted, or become critical and judgmental.
I can now see that I expected you to be almost perfect in meeting my relational needs as a mother. I never got to be able to appreciate you for who you are/were as a whole individual and person in your own right. For the good and bad, and
not for what you could give me or make up to me, filling in the voids.
I have been learning how to deal with all the fallout of being relinquished and all that comes with being fostered and adopted and being raised by people who don’t reflect back to me who I am.
I am learning to take responsibility for my own thoughts, feelings, goals and actions, so that when I am under stress, I don’t fall into the victim mentality or blame game as I used to.
I am also learning to state my own beliefs and values to those who disagree with me, and that includes how others perceive adoption and birth-mothers and I don’t have to become adversarial.
I am learning to self-assess my limits, strengths and weaknesses and be able to freely discuss them with others who are swimming in the same waters. I am even swimming into the emotioanl world of others, meeting them at their place of need without getting sucked in and down. I think that means Mum, that at last I am becoming more emotionally mature; like more of a grown-up adult adoptee, and not the emotional infant or child I once was.
I wish you could have known me as this person. I wish I could have helped you learn to swim in these waters as well with me, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to then, so what I am going to do is try to help other people and I hope
you would have liked who I am becoming.
Oh, just one more thing, Mum, something else that I am learning to hear and know that I am loved by Christ, and that I have nothing to prove. And so that means as well, Mum, neither do you.
Happy mothers day Elizabeth, I hope you can hear me, because I mean it.
The story of the discovery of my secret, closed adoption is intensely personal and brutally honest. But it's also a journey of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.
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